By Aslam Abdullah, TMO Editor in Chief
Today is one of the most significant days in human history. Itâ€™s a day when the one who challenged the superstitions and ignorance of his times was born. Itâ€™s a day when the one who brought consistency and authenticity in religious ideas opened his eyes in this mortal world and itâ€™s a day when the one who changed the social fabric of the world forever arrived in the physical world at a time when he was needed most. It is the 12th Rabi ul Awwal. Itâ€™s the birthday of Prophet Muhammad. Itâ€™s a day of joy and happiness. Itâ€™s a day that should bring the entire world together and not just Muslims.
Instead, the world of Islam is divided on this occasion and a simple act of showing love and happiness has become one of the most controversial issues. The divisions are about the date of his birth, or the authenticity of celebrating Mawlid or initiating an innovation etc. In a Friday sermon in India on January 18, 2013 an Imam declared the Mawlid (the birthday of the Prophet) an innovation and warned the congregants that those who celebrate it or attend any function related to it would not only be frowned by Allah and His messenger but would also be sent to hell fire to live there forever. Those who celebrate Mawlid are the worst of humans, he concluded. He described the practice of celebrating Mawlid a shia practice and said that Shias were not authentic Muslims.
Showing love to the Prophet (s) is part of Muslimsâ€™ conviction or Iman. â€œSay: â€œIf you do love Allah, follow me: Allah will love you and forgive you your sins: For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.â€ (3:31)
â€œSay: If it be that your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your mates, or your kindred; the wealth that ye have gained; the commerce in which ye fear a decline: or the dwellings in which ye delight – are dearer to you than Allah, or His Messenger, or the striving in His cause;- then wait until Allah brings about His decision: and Allah guides not the rebellious.â€ (9:24)
Expressing oneâ€™s love for the Prophet (s) and showing it openly on the day of his birthday cannot be termed a sin or a bida or innovation as is evident from the Quran. Yet, those opposed to Mawlid take a hard line and based on the opinions of some of the Muslim scholars of the 9th and 12th centuries who declare others deviant Muslims.
Regardless of the opinions of scholars, we the Muslim people have every right to express our commitment and dedication to the Prophet (s) and if we do it on 12th of Rabi ul Awwal, it should not cause anyone any pains or trauma. Showing love to the Prophet (s) is a virtue and we are promised reward for that.
It is the Prophet (s) who introduced the world to the Quran. It is the Prophet (s) who lived the Qur`an in his life. It is the Prophet (s) on whose authority and authenticity we accept the Qur`an. It is the Prophet (s) who established a community based on Quranic principles. It is the Prophet (s) who suffered at the hands of his opponents for declaring the oneness of Allah.
It is through his life we understand the Quran as he is called the best example for us. When we celebrate the birth of the Prophet (s), we celebrate the Qur`an and the emergence of the last Divine Message.
Rather than having the controversy about the Mawlid, we should be exploring new ways to celebrate his birthday. His life is for all time and all days and all people. So on this day when Allah brought him to this world we should do something more than usual to thank Allah for this act of mercy. And why should we not? Allah himself records in the Qur`an the birth of prophets and describe it in a positive manner.
â€œSo Peace on him the day he was born, the day that he dies, and the day that he will be raised up to life (again)â€ (19:15)
It is sad that the birthday of the one who is the foundation of our faith is being used by various groups to settle issues related to their intellectual insecurities. In our world, this issue has become a point of conflict between many people.
Rather than focusing on the Prophet (s) and his life and work, each one of them is showing their intellectual bankruptcy in dealing with the situation. They have spent countless hours in debating a non-issue.
Celebrating Mawlid is not a controversy and is not a sin. Those who oppose it are wasting their time and confusing people about the event. They have a political agenda for which they use their religious understanding. They do not revere the Prophet (s); rather they worship their scholars and their respective positions that emerged in a political culture controlled by despotism and religious obscurantism.
Let us celebrate the Mawlid without any guilt and feel proud because the Quran tells us:
â€œAllah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet: O ye that believe! Send ye blessings on him, and salute him with all respect.â€ (33:56)